*originally published in 2010
Hey everybody! Hope all is well out there. Last week, we took a tour of some of the prettiest towns and places in the Piedmont winding our way from Salem to Buckhead. This month, we are going to cover two of my favorite small Georgia towns—Newborn and Mansfield.
If you head out from Covington and hit 278 east and then pick up Hwy 142, you will eventually run into Newborn, GA. Originally named Sandtown (or maybe Cross Road ), this area was first settled in 1819 making it the oldest settlement in Newton Co. with the exception of Winton (later Brick Store). Newborn holds a special place in my heart as I lived there for four years after my Athens days. And I must say—I think of my time in Newborn often and fondly.
On the left after you pass the railroad tracks is the Newborn Fertilizer BBuilding.Owned and operated for many years by Ralph Adams and unmistakable in its appearance, it was the center of activity in this town for many years. There was a time when Mrs. Adams would plant greens in the field next to it and put out a sign out offering them free to anyone who wished to pick ‘em. If you turn off of 142 on any of the side streets and especially up and down Johnson Street , there are many fine houses to be seen. Past the flashing caution light, you’ll see the Newborn School House on the right. Once the site of the Palmyra Institute and later Newborn High School, it is now a community center and a music venue, The Newborn Opry, where on Saturday nights, you can listen to some good old-timey country, bluegrass, and gospel.
Newborn’s history is full and ups and downs. There was a time when there was a bank, hotels, multiple stores, and a thriving train depot. As is the case with many old, small towns in Georgia , the railroad was its lifeblood, and like so many southern towns, the boll weevil was its biggest detriment. There was also a terrible tornado in 1866 that took four souls as well as other tragedies. But through it all—Newborn survived. With around 600 people today, Newborn retains its sleepy, small-town charm.
Maybe a mile or so as the crow flies from Newborn is good ole’ Mansfield , GA. Just a quick skip down Hwy 213, Mansfield is truly a fine, southern town. The legend of how this town got its name is really cool. The story goes like this—the Carmel Land Improvement Co., the real estate venture that bought the land and laid out the town lots, decided that the person who “remained sober at the celebration [following] the sale of the lots”, would be the namesake for the new town. Well, wouldn’t you know it; a “Mr. Mansfield” was apparently the only one who laid off the sauce that day. I don’t know if the story is true, but I sure hope it is!
Mansfield was a railroad town in the truest sense as it came about because of the completion of the Middle Georgia & Atlantic Railroad. According to records, the town started up around 1896 and received its charter in 1903, making it much younger than Newborn. There was a time when Mansfield had a hotel, multiple restaurants, a bank, an undertaker and even a movie theater. For years the Prosser Brothers Store was a major part of community. Not all was good however. The Bank of Mansfield had an unfortunate knack of getting robbed as it happened five times between 1954 and 1974 including the tragic killing of a cashier in 1971. Like Newborn, the boll weevil and the depression greatly hurt this town but did not kill it. Today, Mansfield is a beautiful city filled with some of the finest folks around.